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Queen's University

Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Prospective Students

Why should you learn languages and/or linguistics?

Kolik jazyků znáš, tolikrát jsi člověkem.

You live a new life for every new language you speak.
(Czech proverb)

[image of map of human langauges]

Distribution of languages in the world. Source: Wikipedia

Global understanding

Learning another language gives you the ability to step inside the mind and context of that other culture. Lack of intercultural sensitivity can lead to mistrust and misunderstandings, to an inability to cooperate, negotiate, and compromise. Intercultural understanding begins with individuals who have language abilities and  who can understand foreign news sources, and give insights into other perspectives on international situations and current events.

Study abroad/ graduate school

If you plan to study at a foreign university,  you'll need a good knowledge of the local language. It is a common misconception that everyone speaks English. In many graduate programs, knowledge of a second and sometimes even a third language is often a prerequisite for admission.


Companies that plan to do business abroad therefore have a dire need for bilingual or multilingual employees.  Knowledge of foreign languages may also increase your chances of finding a new job, getting a promotion or a transfer overseas, or of going on foreign business trips.


When you lack the ability to communicate in the native language, you can not fully participate in day-to-day life, understand the culture, or communicate with the people. When you know the language, you have the comfort of being able to successfully order meals in restaurants, ask for and understand directions, find accommodations and perhaps negotiate cheaper prices, and meet and talk with natives. You will be able to communicate more completely and have a deeper, more satisfying travel experience.

Foreign literature, film, music

Translation of a text can never be fully true to the intent, beauty, style, and uniqueness of its original. To be able to fully appreciate literature, theatre, music, and film in other languages, one must be able to access them in their original form.

Own language and own culture

Learning a foreign language helps you understand your own language and culture better through comparison, or through the relationship between the foreign language and your mother tongue.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000